On Monday, November 25 (16:00-17:00), the sounds of Palestine’s electronic underground will be felt on the Amsterdam airwaves as one of its most interesting electronic music figures stops by the local radio institution Red Light Radio.
+970, an electronic music project from Ramallah, transforms the sounds around him into industrial textures, aiming to capture and portray the disorder of the world he comes from. By fusing Techno, Ambient, and Experimental elements in his music, a uniquely dark atmosphere, both internal and external, is created.
This sound of darkness literally translates into 3atmeh-عتمة, also the name of the first +970 album, which is now available. Now, with an increasing profile, a new EP via Italy’s INSANE INDUSTRY imprint, and the budding creation of a darkness inspired eponymous label, +970 offers his unique and personal insight into the current nature of the Palestinian underground scene. From hip hop to metal to electronic, we discussed all.
When I thought of ‘3atmeh’, I was thinking of the sound of a spaceship taking off amidst a horror ceremony.
How were you first introduced to electronic music?
Growing up listening to metal or rock n roll like Metallica and System of a Down gave me an insight into dark and industrial sounds. I was always ready to explore new genres and finally found electronic music and artists to be inspirational.
Who were some of your favorite artists in those early days?
Muslimgauze, the main musical project of Bryn Jones was the main inspiration for me. Bryn was a British ethnic electronica and experimental musician influenced by conflicts and history in the Muslim world. He often emphasized the Palestinian conflict in his work. Also, rock guitartist and noise artist Kangding Ray.
Growing up in Palestine, where were you getting the music you were listening to from?
Historically speaking, Palestine has always been a place for creativity and inspiration in the music industry, especially in relation to sounds that reflect on socio-political issues. Music was used as a tool of collective power against injustices and inequalities, but also to promote social and cultural themes.
Other than traditional sounds, at first, I was also influenced by young local musicians and artists exploring identity through rap and beats. I was also quickly inspired by worldly music, just through my various travels. Brazil had a huge influence on me in terms of growing as an artist and as a producer. I slowly stepped into electronic music as a form of expression but also as a way to relate with my surroundings. It was very attractive to me because I saw it as pure art.
Describe a bit how the electronic music scene is in Palestine? What kinds of events are there? Are there a lot of people doing electronic music? What do Palestinian electronic music events look like? What names should we know that are a part of the Palestinian underground?
The growth of the underground electronic music scene has been gaining momentum quite quickly, especially through the last few years. However, artists have been experimenting and exploring for 10/15 years now. In many cases, it started off with a few artists and enthusiasts of electronic music in house parties, privet raves, simply experiencing and looking for their sound. Now it has grown into the different cities of Palestine, with influences from international artists.
We are collaborating and working together constantly with one vision in mind; creating art, creating music. Over the past few years, a lot of music collectives have come to life, bringing together different talents and infusing sounds.
Names should you know:
I will start with my own collective as I am part of the family
UNION (Ramallah, Palestine): UNION is a music collective offering artists the space to interact, learn, and cooperate. The collective’s goal is to form a collaboration with them, as well as offering them space to have their own projects (from events to workshops). We aim to expand the underground music scene and provide our artists with more opportunities to develop.
NRD (Bethlehem, Palestine): Founder of Radio Nard, the first electronic radio in the middle east and a collective from Bethlehem. Since 2014, NRD has been developing his music style while emerging with Radio Nard to Palestine’s Underground radio Station.
stormtrap / عاصفة (Ramallah, Palestine): A beatmaker and rapper from Ramallah, now based in Vienna. He is also the co-founder of Ramallah Underground and 1/3 of AIWA collective.
SAWT صوت (Haifa, Palestine): A Palestinian electronic music producer currently based in Brussels. His main manner of producing music is based on sound design techniques, where he transforms field recordings into textures, rhythms and melodies.
FANA فَِنا ء: A collective that aims toward the dismantling and de-production of the epistemological authority of what we assume ontological in truth.
And many other artists (PALESTINE IS FULL OF ART)
What has your evolution as an electronic artist been? What were your first interests/sounds and how have they evolved until now?
I’ve listened to all kinds of music growing up, including jazz, metal and hard rock. I was always influenced by sounds around me and was inspired by turning such sounds into music. The sounds of Palestine are rough and tough; you could hear sirens, gunshots, bombings, helicopters, but you could also hear great traditional architecture collapsing and being replaced by industrial buildings, erasing the identity of the city. I try to convey all of this in my music, so it is no wonder there’s a lot of ambient, noise, and darkness in my sound.
Your new album ‘3atmeh’ recently came out. It is described as being influenced by the “disorderly world I come from”? Can you explain how this idea comes out in your music?
When I thought of ‘3atmeh’, I was thinking of the sound of a spaceship taking off amidst a horror ceremony. I wanted to convey elements of chaos and calm, bring in the raw and the rough into layers of industrial atmospheres. I wanted it to explore all the confusion and disorder around me, but I also wanted to bring the listener back to themselves, to use all the alienation around us towards creating a sense of calm.
What does the album title mean? Why is “darkness” appropriate title for the album?
A direct description of these ambient sounds themselves, but also rough, forcing you to look into the darkness within you and around you. A reconnection with the self that we always try to ignore and/or hide.
How would you say the occupation of Palestine has affected you as an artist and musician?
There are so many ways occupation affects artists in Palestine. I would say one of the most important issues is the restriction on movement. There’s a huge divide in the music scene on a local level, within the West Bank where it becomes difficult to cross checkpoints to play in other cities, but also between the West Bank and Palestine where we barely have access to go play with our peers in Haifa. It also means restrictions on movement internationally which can affect your pace of growth as an artist as you become isolated from the international scene and all its infusions and influences. This makes you work harder though to make everything possible.
You will be in Amsterdam at Red Light Radio on Nov 25. What should listeners expect from your set that day? What do you hope to tell listeners with your music?
I play with the intention of having listeners reconnect with themselves, uncover their internal darkness, unleash it and dance it off. I don’t want to tell the listeners anything, I want them to transform the sound and let the sound transform them.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I’m really excited to share the latest EP (RED LIGHT – الضوء الاحمر) released under the INSANE INDUSTRY label.
The album will be released soon on other platforms as well.
I’m also currently working on building my own label “3atmeh” to gather Palestinian artists for exactly this sound, more information on this soon.